5 Tips on How to Find The Right Tax Preparer

Posted by Jala Eaton in TaxesFebruary 19, 2020(Last Updated December 29, 2022)2 min read
Key Takeaways
  • The goal with taxes is to owe nothing and receive nothing.
  • When you owe, that means you did not pay enough, and if you receive, that means you paid too much.
  • The key with taxes is to find a balance where the sufficient amount is paid, no more, no less. 
Are you ready to make some real money moves?

The goal is to owe nothing and receive nothing. Why? Because if you owe something, then you haven't been paying enough, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) could add penalties and interest to what is already owed.


You don't want the IRS to owe you because that usually means you overpaid and gave them an interest-free loan, and you could have been working to better your financial health in other ways with that money, such as:


  1. Starting a business
  2. Investing in the stock market
  3. Depositing money in a high yield savings account
  4. Earning interest


The goal is understood. Now, let's talk about finding the right person to handle your taxes.


If you aren't handling them by yourself via the free methods of e-filing, then you are probably planning to have someone else handle it for you. Did you know the IRS created a list of tax scams to watch out for? This list includes preparer fraud, phone scams, and identity theft. Tax scams are on the rise, and unfortunately, it doesn't take much to become a paid tax preparer because most states have very few requirements for tax preparer training and/or certification. Read more below about how you can find a trusted tax preparer to fit your needs.


Five tips for finding the right tax preparer.


1. Get referrals. Everyone has to get their taxes done (or should), and the majority of people don't handle this themselves, so ask around. If someone tells you, "so and so got me a huge refund," you know the person they worked with wasn't educating them enough to help them understand the real goal of taxes.


2. Check the IRS website to make sure the preparer you picked has a preparer tax identification number (PTIN). You should fact-check even if you aren't working with a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or enrolled agent (EA). No one can legally accept payment for preparing your taxes unless they have a PTIN from the IRS. The number should be entered on any tax return they file for you. (make sure they are planning to file and sign the return. There are some scams where the tax preparer does the work for you and does not sign the return, and instead, they have you sign as if you prepared the return yourself.


3. Research for the professional's name on social media to find out what other people are saying or what their reputation is. Reviews on a particular tax preparer can be helpful for you to make a more informed decision.


4. Interview the potential tax professional (it is best to do this before January-April, tax season before they get really busy). Don't hesitate to call the firm or the accountant to explore whether they have the expertise to handle your taxes, especially if you have an unusual situation.


5. Don't settle. If you try a tax professional one year and aren't satisfied, next year, you do not have to use the same tax professional. Continue to do your research to find the right tax preparer that fits all your needs.

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